It only takes a few minutes of being around Evan McDonald to note his modesty.
And the 2015 graduate of Logan Elm High School was quick to deflect praise after being recognized by the Northeast Conference as its top male student-athlete for the 2018-19 school year.
“It’s quite an honor, but I’m blessed to have a large support system that has helped me along the way,” McDonald said. “My teammates and coaches pushed me to become a better player and gave me an opportunity to succeed.
“My family gives me a ton of support and they’ve helped me out financially, so that I could live my dream of playing Division I baseball. I think back to throwing baseball in the back yard with my dad and Seth (McDonald’s brother) and then having my mom, Abby (McDonald’s sister) and the rest of my family supporting me in the stands.”
McDonald became the first student-athlete from Fairleigh Dickinson University to win the honor since 2012. The award recognizes individual excellence, both athletically and academically, as well as contributions to one’s community.
“I am so proud of Evan for earning this well-deserved honor,” FDU Director of Athletics Bradford Hurlbut told the school’s web site. “Evan embodies what it means to be a student-athlete in every sense of the word and has been an exemplary Knight over the course of his four years. His academic success, coupled with his contributions on the field and in the community, have set the bar for future Knights to uphold.”
The Logan Elm graduate earned first-team all-conference honors this season, batting .319 with 10 home runs, 37 RBI and a team-high 39 runs scored. McDonald’s .548 slugging percentage was fifth-best in the NEC, while his home run total ranked sixth.
“I’ve become a better hitter, as well as a better catcher, thanks to my teammates and coaches,” McDonald said. “We talk the game every day and we work a lot with video to look at things we need to work on in our mechanics, along with having a consistent approach and swing at the plate.”
McDonald leaves FDU second in program history in doubles (49), third in home runs (28) and seventh in hits (197).
“I’ve come a long way from leaving a rural small town like Circleville, moving into a dorm room and living in the New York metropolitan area,” McDonald said. “I had to learn along the way, handle adversity and become a stronger person and competitor.
“When you play Division I baseball, you are either going to rise to the challenge or you are going to crumble.”
McDonald graduated with a 3.72 cumulative grade-point average this spring and earned a degree in psychology. On campus, he served as a Veteran and Emerging Leader in the Knights LEAD Program and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Some of organizations he has volunteered his time to serve include: church caroling around the local community, donating toys for Christmas, putting together care packages for troops, organizing bingo games at the veterans home and transporting the physically disabled to medical appointments.
McDonald is looking to extend his career in the national pastime by playing independent professional baseball. After baseball, he wants to become a teacher and coach, following in his mother’s footsteps by instructing in psychology.
“I’m going to miss hanging around with my teammates after practice or a game and just chatting about everything,” McDonald said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of teammates to be with over my career at Fairleigh Dickinson.
“I’ve always wanted to play professional baseball, so that’s my next goal, and I eventually want to go into teaching and coaching.”